EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Sergio Perez stepped down as Los Angeles’ first ever inspector general for the city’s Department of Water and Power after seven months on the job.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, in the wake of a corruption scandal at the department that led to an FBI raid at the headquarters in 2019, hired the civil rights attorney in May.

“A core goal of mine is restoring trust,” said Perez when he appeared on “Inside the Issues” with Alex Cohen back when he first accepted the position as inspector general.

What You Need To Know

  • Sergio Perez left his post as LADWP's first ever inspector general after seven months

  • Perez joins Kenneth Mejia's team as chief of accountability and oversight for the LA city controller’s office

  • As chief of accountability and oversight, Perez will lead audits, investigations and assessments of city processes and the departments that oversee those processes

  • His work will still include some oversight of LADWP

But, less than a year out from taking the job, the attorney was hired to work as the new chief of accountability and oversight for LA’s newly elected City Controller Kenneth Mejia. 

Perez once again joined Cohen to discuss his achievements as the LADWP’s first ever inspector general and what’s coming in his new role with Mejia.

“Those positions are never easy, especially when you’re the first,” said Perez.

In his seven months as inspector general, he focused on building structures that were lacking within the LADWP. The goal was to create a team that could receive and investigate complaints directly related to fraud, abuse and corruption.

Before he was hired, Perez said there was a general lack of resources to take on this type of work.

By the time he left, he made sure “We laid the groundwork for the team that could be able to handle that.” 

When the call from Mejia rolled around, Perez was ready to answer because his work in accountability was expansive with over 12 years in the books.

The new city controller is a “once in a lifetime public official,” Perez proclaimed as he spoke of Mejia.

He said the newly elected leader showed, during his campaign, the transparency and accountability a city official needs.

“It frankly made the choice easy for me,” he said.

The civil rights attorney feels like he’s joined a team that really has an opportunity to do good.

“We’re living through a unique period of time in Los Angeles where there is a crisis of confidence in our city’s government,” something Perez said Mejia can address with the team he’s built.

When responding to whether he wished he would have spent more time as inspector general, Perez noted, “In an ideal world, the opportunity that I’ve jumped into now would have been timed differently.”

But, he said, he realizes being on the city controller’s team means taking on a “unique, fresh and ultimately effective perspective,” on city politics.

Looking ahead, Perez noted, “The DWP will still be within the ambit of work that I do, but I’ll be doing it from a city-wide perch.”

As the chief of accountability and oversight within the city controller’s office, Perez will manage investigations, audits and assessments for city processes and the agencies that run those processes.

The homelessness crisis and public safety will be the major focus of the city controller’s office, issues Mejia ran on and that get most brought up by constituents. 

“We’ve been working on building the necessary relationships, zeroing in on the necessary sources of information so we can really start to explain to folks how our city got to where it is now, how those real failures came to be and how we might be able to start addressing them,” he said.

Perez said that while his time as inspector general may have been short-lived, he learned, “The things that are broken now didn’t become broken overnight.” 

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